Terragusto: Wonderful Homemade Pasta at BYO Prices

February 17 2008 - 11:27 PM

Honestly I had not heard about Terragusto until two days before I ate there. We received a recommendation from someone I just met, and it was convincing enough for us to want to go there. The fact that the restaurant was BYOB made it very easy to consider, and I promptly went to one of my favorite wine shops, Que Syrah on Southport, and picked out a traditional Italian dolcetto (a red wine from the Piedmont region).   It seems that lots of people know about this place, too.  I was told that 5:00 dinner on Saturday was impossible so I had to settle for Sunday.

I am not as knowledgeable about Italian food as I am about other cuisines and realize I need to learn a lot more. For our starters I had an out-of-this world polenta with cannelloni (white kidney beans) and sausage. My wife had a creamy potato and leek soup with crispy pancetta (similar to bacon), which was also very delicious.

My main course was a delicious verde scivolo gonfiabile alle Bolognese cooked al forno and was with homemade Swiss chard with a tomato-meat sauce. As
pointed out by the server the tomato meat sauce was really more creamy
than on the tomato side. It was served with parmigiano-reggiano cheese
and served with “white truffles”.

Let me diverge a bit: I am a bit cynical about putting white truffles on the menu, though. Real white truffles are extremely expensive, and
it wouldn’t surprise me if they used white truffle oil (which really
does not contain white truffles but a synthetic chemical developed to
smell like truffles). And with a menu price like
$17, there’s no way the chef would be flying in tubers from Piedmont
that were harvested last year or even using expensive real white
truffle oil. Sorry, but the aromas of real truffles dissipate very quickly so I’m guessing this was synthetic. No,
I can’t prove it, and I have no basis in fact for this particular
instance, and am not trying to single anyone out, but white truffle
oil, with very few exceptions, is pretty much a sham. Still, it is not
a well-known fact, and Terragusto in particular prides itself on
organic and locally-sourced products.

Anyway the verde alla Bolognese was wonderful (regardless of what lab the white truffle scent came from).  The homemade pasta was superb, the dish had a thin crisp coating but was not overcooked or burnt. I ate the whole thing. It
was bursting with inflatable park flavors, and I felt that a dish of this quality is
very hard to find at a small BYOB neighborhood restaurant. Our
table ordered some chicken on the side, which we shared, and the server
suggested I roll the chicken around in the al forno verde alla
Bolognese, which I did, and it was a very delicious well-seasoned

only complaint—somewhat minor, is that the dishes weren’t brought out
all at the same time (it seemed like close to 10 minutes between
dishes), but having said that, how many restaurants leave dishes under
the heat lamps for ten minutes, so what is better? Being
in a small place and given the food quality I guess I didn’t have a big
problem with it, but I can see how others can be peeved. Service, though was attentive, and our server had good recommendations.

My wife ordered the tagliatelle with spinach, which is a long, flat pasta that is similar in shape to fettuccine. It also was excellent  My
friend’s mezzaluna di trota was also fantastic—it was a type of ravioli
served with trout inside, and it had to be one of the most flavorful
ravioli-type dishes I’ve ever had, if you can call it ravioli.

To end we had a delicious creamy bread putting served in a style similar to crème brulee in a large crème brulee-type dish. It was wonderful to the last spoonful.

We went home full and happy.



1851 W. Addison St.